Reading Labour’s desperate racist campaign – What they say

If I believed the comments on my original post, about the despicable, desperate ‘dog whistle’ racist leaflet produced by John Howarth‘s company Public Impact Communications for Reading Labour Party‘s candidate in Church Ward for this years local elections, then I might think I was the only person who though there was something wrong with it.

One of the first people to comment on the leaflet was Reading East’s former Labour MP, Jane Griffiths, here. She highlighted:

this candidate, for Reading Labour in Church ward, was “born and bred” in Reading (she lives in west Reading somewhere) and is “one of us”.  the Conservative councillor defending his seat in Church ward?  Azam Janjua.

Then we have Conservative councillor for Thames ward and candidate for Mapledurham ward at this years elections, Isobel Balsden, who comments on the leaflet here, saying:

In Church Ward (East Reading) the biggest issue is the hated traffic lights on Shinfield Road. Cllr Azam Janjua’s re-election campaign states under a Conservative administration, if elected, we will put back the roundabouts: This contrasts with Labour’s minority administration’s policy that the traffic lights are here to stay.

Azam lives with his wife in the heart of Church Ward just off Whitley Wood Road. He’s lived in Reading for nearly 50 years.  He’s been a councillor for many years and since retiring from being a Hackney Carriage taxi driver he has been a full-time councillor.  He is well known in the whole community in Church Ward.  He has 3 daughters: the eldest is a local GP, the middle one is a GP in London; the youngest (who got a degree at Worcester College, Oxford University) is a researcher.  

In contrast Labour’s candidate lives in West Reading – Tilehurst to be precise.  She has no experience of local government.  She wasn’t even born when Azam moved to Reading.

Then there is Liberal Democrat former Reading East candidate and former leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Gareth Epps, who comments on it here. He says:

So why are leaflets being put out by Reading Labour in support of their candidate (who does not live in Church ward) saying that ‘she will fight for us…. because she is one of us’?  It’s striking that the equivalent Labour leaflet for Abbey ward promoting Tony Page does not make the same claim.  Why does the first line talk about the candidate being ‘born and bred in Reading’?  The Labour candidate’s address is listed as being in Tilehurst, in what I think is Norcot ward.  Why should Labour only be making this claim in a ward where the incumbent is of Pakistani origin?

Labour has plenty of form when it comes to the seedier side of ‘dog whistle’ politics.  In the past they have resorted to deliberate false statements (a criminal offence) on countless occasions.  But this really does take the biscuit.  It is a deliberate contrast drawn on lines of race alone.  I challenge Reading Labour Party to come up with a reason for the contents of this leaflet that is not to pander to racism, to point to the fact that their candidate is white, and the incumbent is not.  I wonder whether the procession of senior Labour politicians, from Ed Balls downwards (upwards?) and including several Shadow Cabinet members, have delivered this leaflet or approve of it?

Absolutely shameful and disgusting on Labour’s part.

Then there’s the blog of Conservative councillor for Peppard ward, here, who says:

….some in the local Labour party believe that many voters in Church ward and neighbouring Whitley ward are racist, and this would certainly explain why they have used such dog-whistle tactics. However, the fact that Cllr Azam Janjua has been elected several times in Church ward suggests that the people there have more sense and decency than Labour credits them with. Perhaps they are more offended by the fact that Azam was previously a Labour Councillor and had the sense to defect to the Conservatives.We will certainly be lodging a complaint with the Electoral Returning Officer and the Labour Party agent demanding that Labour apologise and withdraw the offending leaflet.

So, it would seem there is agreement across the political spectrum that Reading Labour Party believe the people of Church to be racist and they are trying to get their support by using racist dog whistle language. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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11 Responses to “Reading Labour’s desperate racist campaign – What they say”

  1. curious blue Says:

    You selectively quote those who agree with you and not those who do not. I still ask why not question the Peppard situation and why the incumbent Tory Councillor who is an Asian like Cllr Janjua was deselected?

    I see this hare that you have started as being a phantom issue owing to sour grapes. I am not a member of the Labour or Tory parties and do not live in Church ward but feel that people outside of Reading should not interefere on its Local Elections.

    If I lived in Church I would be more inclined to vote for the Labour candidate as a reaction to this campaign against her and I feel groundless accudsations of Racism

    • the Flashing Blade Says:

      Curious Blue. I haven’t quoted any that disagree with me for the simple reason I haven’t found any. Why do you think there are plenty who do agree with me? Could it be because I’m right?

      I’ve not written about Peppard because I do not want to, my gaff, my rules. Plenty has been written about that already.

      With this new fangled interweb thingy people anywhere in the World can comment on events in Reading or anywhere else. Should we stop the World to let you off?

      • Curious Blue Says:

        It’s your blog so subject only to the usual rules re Defamation and other words and expressions forbidden by UK Law you can say what you wish and back whoever you like in Elections etc.

        For my part I cannot but think that this little campaign is as much to hurt the Labour Establishment in Reading, who have their faults it has to be said, than to help the Tory Candidate hold his seat on May 3rd.

        Tell you what, I’ll offer you a friendly little side bet. If this Conservative holds Church Ward after May 3rd I’ll donate £30 (Thirty Pounds only) to the charity of his choice, if Labour wins that seat will you donate £30 to a charity I support?

  2. Sara Says:

    That’s not gareth epps in the picture

  3. Gareth Epps Says:

    Bloody awful photo – but it is me! It was raining very much at the time, I seem to remember.

    For Curious Blue’s benefit, my aim is to stop political parties pandering to racism in order to win votes. Any that do are beyond contempt. But then I’d say you are a Labour troll.

    • Curious Blue Says:

      Gareth you’d be 180 degrees off line there. I am no Labour troll but someone who is well to the Social and Moral Right. However, whether I am Left, Right or Centre, there is something about this specious accusation of Racism which I find objectionable. By all means fight Labour on their policies in running Reading over the years, and there are many issues on which I would argue with them, but to me this is an underhand tactic
      These days accusations of “Racist” and “Homophobe” are similar to calling someone a “Commie” in the USA of the 1950s and early 60s, a sure fire way of besmirching their reputation and possibly destroying their career, especially in Politics. I have no reason whatsoever to assume Racism in Reading Labour Party which not only has many Black and Asian Members but has Councillors from Ethnic Minorities and has had at least two Asian Mayors, and had the first Black Councillor on the old Berkshire County Council who represented Katesgrove for some years.. Does your Lib-Dem party have any such Councillors on RBC?

      I predict that rather than damage Labour’s chances in Church, this attempted smear of “Racism” will backfire as the voters will see through it and return the Labour candidate as Councillor for Church Ward when the viotes are counted after the Election on May 3rd.

  4. Isobel Ballsdon (@isobelballsdon) Says:

    “Curious Blue” residents have told my colleagues and me they feel Labour’s leaflet is racist. I agree with their perception.

    • Curious Blue Says:

      Then in the interests of “transparency = a big issue with Cameron so I understand, please state why the incumbent Tory Councillor in Peppard Ward was de-selectedd and is now fighting his seat against a new Tory Candidate. If there is nothing odd in this situation pease let voters know.

      I feel that the brohaha in Church has the smell of a diversionary tactic, with a slight hint of sour grapes.

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